Tips Travelling Vietnam – Are you traveling to Vietnam? This post includes the most useful Vietnam travel tips and the most important things to know before going to Vietnam.
Vietnam is a beautiful country, and that is a fact. However, there is no denying that it is not exactly the easiest country to travel to. If it’s your first time in Southeast Asia (and even your second, as it was for me), you’re in for a real shock.
Tips Travelling Vietnam
First of all, Vietnam is incredibly crowded – and I don’t mean tourists! Just to give you some figures, the population density in Vietnam is 311 people per Km2 (806 people per mi2); whereas in Italy it is at 206 per Km2 (532 people per mi2) and in the United States 36 per Km2 (94 people per mi2) (data available on Worldometers.info). What this means is chaos – and I mean it. The streets are packed with cars, motorcycles and scooters and people literally all the time. And many people in a place that includes, it goes without saying that the country is dirty – think a lot of garbage.
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Knowing what to expect before your trip will certainly help you prevent (well, at least to a certain extent) that culture shock I mentioned. And it will help you make the most of your time. So here is a list of the best Vietnam travel tips – everything you must know before visiting Vietnam.
This is one of the most important Vietnam travel tips I have for you, as it will definitely affect your time in the country!
While it’s safe to say that you can visit Vietnam all year round, generally the best time to visit Vietnam – especially if you want to travel across the country – is in the spring, between March and April. This means more moderate temperatures (not as cold as in the winter in the North; and not as hot as in the summer in the South); and less chance of rain. It is also the best time to visit Vietnam if you want to go hiking!
I visited Vietnam between the end of February and mid-March and I can attest that the weather varied greatly between the North and the South. Hanoi is generally beautiful, but it can also become terribly humid and foggy, and also Ha Long Bay, where you may not get the picture-perfect clear sky (which makes the water turn a beautiful emerald green). Sapa Valley is typically sunny at this time of year, and the temperatures during the day are nice and mild, but it can get cold at night (something you want to keep in mind if you want to do a homestay).
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Depending on your nationality, you can easily get a Vietnamese visa on arrival. Keep in mind that if you want a Vietnam visa on arrival you can only get a visa waiver of 15 days, and you will also have to show proof that you will leave the country in this period. This type of visa is completely free.
However, if you want to spend a little more time traveling around the country (after all, there is a lot to see!), you will need to apply for a visa in advance.
Be sure to read my post How to Get Vietnam Visa Online and Vietnam Visa on Arrival.
Traveling through Vietnam can be a bit of a hassle, what with the trains, buses, planes and all the travel planning you may have to do if you have limited time. So here’s one of the best Vietnam travel tips for you: join a guided tour! Just leave the planning bits to the experts: you will only have to pack your bag (in fact, they will even tell you what to pack!).
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The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). The exchange rate is currently around 23,000 VND to $1 USD; 26, 000 VND to € 1 Euro and 31, 000 VND to £ 1 GBP. Dollars are accepted in all hotels and even in some shops, but to save on the exchange rate, you are better off using the local currency.
If you plan to exchange money, be sure to check the exchange rate in advance and go with a clear idea of what you will receive in return: bank tellers pretend to “forget” to give you the lower denomination notes (I suspect they can try to cash it themselves).
Cash is king in Vietnam – not to mention, paying by credit card means adding up to 3% to the fees. So you will have to remove often. The good news is that your dollar will go a long way; but the bad news is that most ATMs in Vietnam will only give 2,000,000 VND (that’s about $85 USD), and only a few give up to 3,000,000 VNM. In addition, ATMs also charge a transaction fee that can be anything between $1 and $5 USD.
Some banks will not charge you any international ATM fees – ask yours if they do. I had an account with N26, which is specially designed for travelers to avoid unwanted extra fees.
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You don’t have to be rich to treat yourself to Vietnam – this is one of the most budget-friendly countries in the world. A budget of no more than $40 USD per night will get you a nice boutique hotel; while a mere $ 20 will secure a room in a mid-range place – and breakfast is included in both cases.
You can expect to pay $2 USD for a full meal if you choose to eat on the street; and $20 USD will get you a dinner at a fancy restaurant, with drinks and dessert (this is how much my sister and I paid at the fanciest restaurant in Hoi An).
You will have all kinds of accommodation options in Vietnam, and the good news is that even a small budget can go a long way and you will hardly have to sleep in dormitories. Any city or town will offer a selection of budget hotels, mid-range and luxury ones; guest house; hotels and even home stays.
If you choose a house to stay in a more rural area, keep in mind that the conditions can be beyond basic – sometimes the guests are placed literally under the (finished) roof where there is no glass on the windows, so it can be very cold. at night
Essential Things You Should Know Before Making A Trip To Vietnam
Vietnam is a safe country, even for solo female travelers. You’ll need to keep your eyes open for pickpockets and thieves who may try to steal your backpack – so make sure you keep your important items safe and never leave your backpack or purse unattended.
Scams in Vietnam are actually quite common, so one of my best Vietnam travel tips is to beware of them.
The most typical scams are taxi scams. Drivers will ask you to agree to a price that is actually higher than what you would pay if you went to the meter; So ask to be on the safe side (more on taxis and taxis in a bit).
Other scams occur in hotels – which is rather unfortunate. You will see that hotel owners / receptionists / managers will ask about your travel plans in a rather pushy way, usually even before they check you in (and in fact, they do it even if they are overbooked and you need to go another place!).
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They want to sell trips in order to get a percentage, and these trips are usually more expensive than what you would pay in an agency. If this happens, you can either be very vague in your answer or (my preferred method) say that you are not interested in tours and be prepared to stand your ground as they can be very persistent.
Vietnam is connected to the rest of Southeast Asia by several budget airlines, so you are probably better off flying to Bangkok (where you can get a cheap flight from most countries) and from there to either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
Once you arrive in Vietnam, you must decide how to cover the long distance. Words cannot describe the kind of absurd transportation you can see. Anyway, back to what’s useful for you.
Given the crazy traffic, one of my top Vietnam travel tips is to move around the country by plane, rather than by bus. I know this will make many environmentalists cry, but frankly the traffic is so bad, the driving is so crazy (and dangerous), the honking is so constant, the buses and minivans are so uncomfortable (no leg room, bags and suitcases everywhere, fall). at every turn) and everything is so slow (5 hours to cover 150 km – 93 miles – just to give an example) that you are infinitely better to jump on a budget flight. Just make sure you check for hidden fees and your baggage weight as baggage restrictions are often applied to the letter.
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In some cases, you can